York EDA First to Approve Historic Triangle Economic Development Group

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YorkCountyLogoThe Historic Triangle is one step closer to having a unified voice for economic development.

The York County Economic Development Authority endorsed a memorandum of agreement to create a regional economic development organization representing James City and York counties and the City of Williamsburg.

The new entity will represent the economic interests of the Historic Triangle localities, and will attempt to attract new businesses to the region. York County Director of Economic Development Jim Noel said the process would be done transparently and for the benefit of all three localities.

The move toward a new economic development organization began in March, when the three Historic Triangle EDAs held a joint meeting to discuss the possibility of exiting the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance.

For the last 10 years, Williamsburg, James City and York counties paid 95 cents per citizen, or about $150,000 total, to the Norfolk-based HREDA to support efforts to bring new businesses to Hampton Roads – and potentially the Historic Triangle.

At the meeting in March, the three EDAs voiced their displeasure with the organization’s paltry track record with bringing businesses to the Historic Triangle. Noel said the region was not seeing any increases in local tax revenue through its involvement with HREDA.

The three local EDAs voted to redirect the money – about $146,000 – from HREDA to a new local group that will seek out small- to medium-sized firms to the area.

York County is acting as the group’s fiscal agent, and has been tasked with leading the organizational effort. The Williamsburg and James City County EDAs are likely to endorse the memorandum of agreement, which outlines the new group’s goals and structure, in the coming months.

Williamsburg Economic Development Specialist Rich Saunders said the city’s EDA could address the memorandum at its meeting in September. James City County Director of Economic Development Russ Seymour said the county’s EDA would also likely address the memorandum at its September meeting.

Noel said the Virginia Economic Development Partnership had reviewed the Historic Triangle’s application and accepted it as the state’s newest regional economic development organization.

“We’re the smallest, but we’re the brightest and the best,” Noel said Tuesday.

While the other two localities must still sign off on the memorandum, Noel outlined the next steps in the new group’s formation. He said the long-range plan included hiring an administrator to lead the group, and potentially a professional economic developer or consultant tasked with a new regional focus.

Noel also said additional joint meetings could be in store to “iron out” details of the group.

Noel said the group could launch officially by Dec. 1.

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